Measure K – Lowest Law Enforcement Priority Initiative

Frequently Asked Question
What will Measure K do?
Measure K will make private adult marijuana offenses the lowest law enforcement priority for the Santa Cruz police force.  It also requests that the city clerk send letters annually to state and federal elected representatives urging reform of marijuana laws.
How will this new law be enforced?
Each city council member will appoint a city resident to serve on the voluntary community oversight committee that is responsible for monitoring marijuana arrests made by the police. Should the committee find any failure on the part of relevant authorities to comply with the initiative, the exclusive remedy is a writ of mandate, not a criminal lawsuit.
Will this cost the city money?
NO. In fact, this measure will save money by reducing the amount of time and resources that police and courts tie up dealing with nonviolent marijuana offenses. This initiative will allow the police to focus their efforts on violent and serious crime.
Does Measure K allow more marijuana to get into the hands of kids?
NO. The measure only covers adult marijuana offenses. Selling marijuana to minors is illegal and laws against it would still be enforced under this initiative.  In Seattle, University of Washington researchers even found that marijuana use among teenagers even dropped slightly since the ordinance passed.
Does Measure K allow people to smoke marijuana in public?
NO. Public dealing and public consumption will continue to be enforced at current priority levels.
Have similar initiatives been passed elsewhere?
YES. Seattle, Washington; Denver, Colorado; Oakland, California; and Columbia, Missouri have all passed similar ordinances.  In Seattle, arrest rates have plummeted by more than 75%, saving the city hundreds of thousands of dollars, and with no measurable increase in usage. 
Does Measure K prevent police officers from doing their duty to uphold the law?
NO. Measure K does not prevent any police officer from enforcing any law that endangers public safety.  Measure K merely states the community’s preference for focusing police resources on offenses other than marijuana.   
Does this initiative violate the law?
NO.  It merely sets the priority at which certain laws are enforced. The initiative does not force the city to break laws, but rather, calls upon the city to support efforts to reform California’s laws.
Does Measure K reflect the values and priorities of Santa Cruz Citizens?
YES. In a recent poll by Evans McDonough, “Santa Cruz voters overwhelmingly think that the current approach to adult marijuana use is a failure, current penalties are too strict, and private adult marijuana offenses should be the lowest police priority.”
• 85% disagree that “people convicted of marijuana offenses should go to prison.”
• 83% agree that “by criminalizing marijuana we are clogging our courts and wasting our tax dollars and police resources on non-violent adult marijuana offenders instead of focusing on solving murders and violent crime.”
• 70% agree that, among adults, the Santa Cruz police force should make marijuana offenses its lowest police priority.
Who’s supporting Measure K?
Measure K has a broad base of support, including elected officials, community groups, doctors, and many community leaders.   Here’s a partial list: Santa Cruz County Central Democratic Committee, People’s Democratic Club of Santa Cruz, Green Party of Santa Cruz, County Supervisor Mardi Wormhoudt, County Supervisor (elect) Neil Coonerty, Vice Mayor Emily Reilly, Tim Fitzmaurice, Former Santa Cruz Mayor Celia Scott, Drew Morris, MD, and many others. 
The lowest law enforcement priority initiative was placed on the ballot by a group of local citizens called Santa Cruz Citizens for Sensible Marijuana Policy.

For more information, please contact
Kate Horner, Campaign Coordinator at:

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